DNC National Press Secretary Hari Sevugan released the following statement in response to the Republican Party’s rebuttal to President Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress on Health Insurance Reform.  Below Sevugan’s statement is a fact check of Rep. Boustany’s remarks.

“Tonight we heard more of the same from the Republican ‘Party of No’ in the form of Louisiana Congressman Charles Boustany.  The Republicans made the decision, like they did in February on the Recovery Act, to parrot the Party of No’s talking points and reflexive partisanship on health insurance reform and offer NO plan of their own.

“It’s clear that no matter what President Obama said tonight, the Republicans and Charles Boustany would have opposed it — he even wrote his response before hearing the President’s speech.  Instead of offering their own plan to lower health care costs tonight, Boustany and the Republicans relied on lies that have been repeatedly debunked such as falsely claiming health insurance reform will lead to government-run health care.  Boustany and the Republicans have no plan other than to keep saying no so that they can maintain the status quo and keep the coffers of the insurance industry filled at the expense of America’s families.

“Instead of continuing to try to ‘kill’ reform to ‘break’ the President, Republicans should use the President’s speech tonight as a reset button and work with the President to reform health insurance instead of continuing to support the status quo.”

FACT CHECK

RHETORIC: “Republicans are pleased that President Obama came to the Capitol tonight.  We agree much needs to be done to lower the cost of health care for all Americans.  On that goal, Republicans are ready – and we’ve been ready – to work with the President for common-sense reforms that our nation can afford.”

REALITY: REPUBLICANS DON’T WANT BI-PARTISAN REFORM AND ARE ONLY INTERESTED IN PLAYING POLITICS

Boehner Said That Even Without The Public Option, There’s Little Reason For Republicans To Back The Bill. “House GOP Leader John Boehner says that even without a public insurance option in health care reform, there’s little reason for Republicans to back the rest of the bill. ‘Let’s understand, it’s not the only bitter pill in the plan,’ Boehner told reporters, arguing that Democrats were planning a slew of tax hikes and fees to fund their overhaul.” [Politico, 9/9/09]

Sen. Inhofe On Health Reform Bill: “I Don’t Have To Read It, Or Know What’s In It. I’m Going To Oppose It Anyways.” The Express-Star reported that, “[a]t a town hall meeting Wednesday Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) told Chickasha residents he does not need to read the 1,000 page health care reform bill, he will simply vote against it. ‘I don’t have to read it, or know what’s in it. I’m going to oppose it anyways,’ he said.” [The Express-Star (Chickasha, OK), 8/28/09]

Enzi: “That (Health Care Bill) Is Going To Take Awhile And I’m Pretty Sure It’s Going To Fail.” “Congress won’t start serious work on cap and trade until after the health care bill is taken care of. ‘That (the health care bill) is going to take awhile and I’m pretty sure it’s going to fail,’ Enzi said. Enzi, a former Gillette mayor and state legislator who lives in Gillette, has been touring the state during the congressional recess to talk about issues.” [Gillette News Record, 9/2/09]

Kyl Said That Even If Democrats Do Away With The Public Option, The GOP Most Likely Won’t Support The Bill; Also Called The Co-Op A “Trojan Horse.” “Sen. Jon Kyl just confirmed the suspicions of most liberals fearful that the White House is giving away too much in the health care debate. The Senate Republican whip, speaking to reporters on a conference call from his home state of Arizona, said that even if the Democrats do away with a government-run insurance option, the GOP most likely won’t support the bill that’s being written in the Senate. ‘I think it’s safe to say that there are a huge number of big issues that people have,’ Kyl said, referring to Republican senators. ‘There is no way that Republicans are going to support a trillion-dollar-plus bill.’ … On the nonprofit insurance cooperatives that Sen. Kent Conrad and other centrist Democrats are proposing as an alternative to a public plan, Kyl said it was a ‘Trojan horse.’ ‘It’s a step towards government-run health care in this country,’ Kyl said.” [Politico,8/18/09]

Boehner And Burr: Count Republicans As A Firm “No” On Health Reform. The New York Times reported on Republicans’ opposition to health care reform legislation, and wrote: “Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader, said he was unaware of any House Republican inclined to support the Democrats’ proposed legislation. Asked how many Senate Republicans could sign on to developing Democratic plans, Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, author of a Republican alternative, said: ‘I think right now, none. Zero.’” [New York Times, 6/27/09]

RHETORIC: “Replacing your family’s current health care with government-run health care is not the answer.  In fact, it’ll make health care much more expensive.  That’s not just my personal diagnosis as a doctor or a Republican; it’s the conclusion of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office – the neutral scorekeeper that determines the cost of major bills.”  

REALITY: NO ONE WOULD BE FORCED TO DROP THEIR HEALTH INSURANCE

Politifact Called The Claim “False” That Under The Plans Being Debated In Congress, Millions Would Lose Health Care. According to PolitiFact’s truth-o-meter, Rep. Mike Pence, in an email, wrote that Democrats propose “a government-controlled health care plan that will deprive roughly 120 million Americans of their current health care coverage.” PolitiFact wrote in response how misleading Rep. Pence was, saying, “we rated Pence’s statement that the government would ‘deprive’ 120 million of their ‘current health care coverage’ False.” [PolitiFact, 5/19/09]

FactCheck.org: Under Obama’s Health Care Plan, “Nobody Would Be Forced To Drop His Or Her Current Insurance.” “Obama has long said he would allow individuals or small businesses to buy insurance through a public plan – like the one now available to members of Congress. But nobody would be forced to drop his or her current insurance, and private plans would exist as they do now. This was the health care plan he promoted as a presidential candidate.” [FactCheck.org, 5/1/09]

RHETORIC: “I read the bill Democrats passed through committee in July.  It creates 53 new government bureaucracies, adds hundreds of billions to our national debt, and raises taxes on job-creators by 600 billion dollars.”

REALITY: HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM WILL BE DEFICIT NEUTRAL

Obama: “I Will Not Sign A Plan That Adds One Dime To Our Deficits.” President Obama: “First, I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits – either now or in the future.  Period.  And to prove that I’m serious, there will be a provision in this plan that requires us to come forward with more spending cuts if the savings we promised don’t materialize.” [President Obama speech to the joint session of Congress, 9/9/09]

Orszag: Health Reform “Has To Happen This Year…Has To Be Deficit Neutral;” White House Will “Work With The Congress To Make Sure That Those Two Things Happen.” During an appearance on CNN, OMB Director Peter Orszag reiterated, “We have to get health-care reform done this year…What we have said is health reform has to happen this year, and it has to be deficit neutral. So we will work with the Congress to make sure that those two things happen.” [CNN “State Of The Union”, 3/7/09]

Sebelius: “Health Reform Will Be Paid For And It Will Be Deficit Neutral Over Ten Years.” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in testimony prepared for delivery to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said, “The president is open to good ideas about how we finance health reform. But we are not open to deficit spending. Health reform will be paid for and it will be deficit neutral over ten years.” [Sebelius Testimony, 6/24/09]

House Blue Dogs Negotiated For Key Cost-Cutting Measures In House Bill. The New York Times reported that, “[t]he fiscal conservatives, members of the House Blue Dog Coalition, made their case for major changes in the bill at a White House meeting with Mr. Obama …The Blue Dogs said they had won agreement from Mr. Waxman to help rein in Medicare spending by giving the executive branch new power to set annual payment rates for doctors, hospitals and other health care providers, based on recommendations from an independent advisory council. Rates are now set by statutory formulas, and Congress is besieged by lobbyists pleading for bigger increases each year.” [New York Times, 7/22/09]

REALITY: HEALTH INSURANCE WILL AID SMALL BUSINESS AND JOB CREATORS

Study: Healthcare Reform Has Potential To Save Small Businesses As Much As $855 Billion – No Reform Means Small Businesses Will Pay Nearly $2.4 Trillion In Healthcare Costs, Cost 178,000 Jobs. The Small Business Majority study commissioned a study from noted economist from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Jonathan Gruber. The study found that, “without reform, small businesses will pay nearly $2.4 trillion dollars over the next ten years in healthcare costs for their workers. With reform, the study shows that small businesses can save as much as $855 billion, a reduction of 36 percent, money that can be reinvested to grow the economy.” The study also found that without reform, 178,000 small business jobs will be lost in 2018 as a result of healthcare costs, and with reform, up to 128,000 of those jobs could be saved. [The Economic Impact of Healthcare Reform on Small Business, 6/11/09]

National Small Business Association: “Health-Care Reform Can Not Wait Yet Another Year.” “Health-care reform topped the list of small-business priorities when members of the National Small Business Association voted recently on issues they want Congress and President Barack Obama to address. The group said it supports ‘broad health-care reform’ that will reduce costs, improve quality, create a fair sharing of health-care costs, and focus on individuals’ responsibilities as health-care consumers. ‘Given the current state of the U.S. economy, the fact that our members voted health-care reform their number one priority ought to send a strong message to Congress,’ NSBA President Todd McCracken said in a written statement. ‘Health-care reform can not wait yet another year.’” [Orlando Sentinel, 3/9/09]

Survey: Even Though Over 80% Of Small Business Owners Say Health Insurance Would Help Attract Best Employees, 45% Say They Do Not Provide It Because It Is Too Expensive. A Wells Fargo / Gallup poll found that, “[e]ight in 10 small-business owners believe that having an adequate health insurance program would help their companies attract the best qualified employees (84%), reduce the likelihood that their employees would leave (83%), and would make employees more loyal to their companies (81%)…Although small-business owners acknowledge that their companies can obtain health insurance for their employees, 45% of those who say they do not provide insurance say it is because they cannot afford to do so.” [Wells Fargo / Gallup Poll, 10/5/07]

RHETORIC: “And, it cuts Medicare by 500 billion dollars, while doing virtually nothing to make the program better for our seniors.”

REALITY: THE BILL ELIMINATES WASTE AND ROOTS OUT FRAUD AND ABUSE IN MEDICARE WHILE DOING NOTING TO TAKE AWAY CHOICES FOR SENIORS – IT WILL EVEN EXPAND BENEFITS FOR SENIORS BY CLOSING THE “DONUT HOLE” IN THE MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFIT

Obama Said That Health Insurance Reform Would Not Cut Medicare Benefits. Obama: “It’s not going to reduce Medicare benefits. What it’s going to do is to change how those benefits are delivered so that they’re more efficient.” [New York Times, 7/22/09]

AARP: RNC Statement Is “Misleading And Alarmist,” And “The Proposed Medicare Savings Do Not Limit Benefits, They Do Not Impose Rationing.” The Wall Street Journal reported that, “[t]he Republican Party issued a new salvo in the health debate Monday with a ‘seniors’ health care bill of rights’ that opposed any moves to trim Medicare spending or limit end-of-life care to seniors. Intended as a political shot at President Barack Obama, the Republican National Committee manifesto marks a remarkable turnaround for a party that had once fought to trim the health program for the elderly and disabled, which last year cost taxpayers over $330 billion…The country’s largest lobbying group for seniors, AARP, said it welcomed the RNC’s commitment to protect Medicare. But the group, which supports efforts to overhaul the health-care system, also dismissed the RNC statement as misleading and alarmist. ‘Change by itself is anxiety producing, but as we have analyzed the various bills [before Congress], the proposed Medicare savings do not limit benefits, they do not impose rationing and they do not put the government between patients and their doctors,’ said John Rother, AARP’s executive vice president.” [Wall Street Journal, 8/25/09]

AARP Clarified That “Medicare Cuts That Have Been Proposed So Far Would Not Affect Benefits.” The Washington Post reported that, “Tom Nelson, AARP’s chief operating officer, said, ‘Indications that we have endorsed any of the major health care reform bills currently under consideration in Congress are inaccurate.’ Like Obama, AARP wants action this year to cover the uninsured and restrain health care costs, but the organization has refrained from endorsing legislation. Nelson said AARP would not endorse a bill that reduces Medicare benefits. A spokesman said the Medicare cuts that have been proposed so far would not affect benefits.” [Washington Post, 8/11/09]

RHETORIC: “We can do better, with a targeted approach that tackles the biggest problems.  Here are four important areas where we can agree, right now: “One, all individuals should have access to coverage, regardless of preexisting conditions.”

REALITY: SENATE REPUBLICAN WHIP KYL REJECTED REQUIRING INSURERS TO PROVIDE COVERAGE TO THOSE WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS

Senate Minority Whip Kyl Rejected Health Insurance Market Reforms That Have Even Been Endorsed By The Insurance Industry, Like Requiring Insurers To Provide Cover Without Regard To Pre-Existing Conditions. “Asked by ABC News about a package of insurance market reforms that have been endorsed not only by President Obama but also by the insurance industry, Sen. Jon Kyl came out against all three proposals. In particular, the Arizona Republican signaled that he opposes requiring insurance companies nationwide to provide coverage without regard to pre-existing conditions; requiring them to charge everyone the same rate regardless of health status; and requiring all Americans to carry health insurance. … Kyl said he opposed guaranteed issue — requiring insurers to provide coverage without regard to pre-existing conditions — and community rating — requiring them to charge the same rate regardless of health status — because of concerns about cost.” [ABC News, 8/19/09]

RHETORIC: “Two, individuals, small businesses and other groups should be able to join together to get health insurance at lower prices, the same way large businesses and labor unions do.”

REALITY: HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADER PENCE CRITICIZED INSURANCE EXCHANGES

Republican Leader Rep. Pence Criticized Insurance Exchanges. Rep. Pence: “Republicans believe that in addition to tort reform what we should allow Americans to do is to purchase health insurance the way members of Congress can, the way all federal employees can and that is to buy health insurance across state lines to get out there and allow new insurance products to be created in a new competitive marketplace…even the private insurance elements in the Exchanges, you know, are essentially government controlled and government dictated.” [MSNBC, 9/2/09]

RHETORIC: “And, four, insurers should be able to offer incentives for wellness care and prevention – something particularly important to me.  I operated on too many people who could have avoided surgery if they’d simply made healthier choices earlier in life.”

REALITY: RNC SLAMMED PREVENTATIVE CARE DURING OBAMA SPEECH

RNC LiveBlog During The President’s Address Slammed Preventative Care.” “Obama says that spending money on prevention ‘makes sense’ and ‘saves money.’ What does the Congressional Budget Office say about that? CBO Finds No Evidence Preventative Medicare Will Save Money, And Evidence It Might Raise Costs. “Although different types of preventive care have different effects on spending, the evidence suggests that for most preventive services, expanded utilization leads to higher, not lower, medical spending overall.’ (Douglas W. Elmendorf, Letter To Rep. Nathan Deal, 8/7/09)” [RNC Live Response, 9/9/09]

RHETORIC: “We do have ideas the President hasn’t agreed with.  We’re grateful the President mentioned medical liability reform, and we hope he’s serious.  We need to establish tough liability reform standards, encourage speedy resolution of claims, and deter junk lawsuits that drive up the cost of care.  Real reform must do this.”

REALITY: WHEN OBAMA TRIED TO COMPROMISE WITH REPUBLICANS ON MALPRACTICE, THEY REJECTED HIS OVERTURE

Obama Informed Congressional GOPers That He’d Be Willing To Curb Malpractice Awards But They Were Unwilling To Make Any Concessions In Return. “When Barack Obama informed congressional Republicans last month that he would support a controversial parliamentary move to protect health-care reform from a filibuster in the Senate, they were furious. … Where, they demanded, was the bipartisanship the President had promised? So, right there in the Cabinet Room, the President put a proposal on the table, according to two people who were present. Obama said he was willing to curb malpractice awards, a move long sought by Republicans that is certain to bring strong opposition from the trial lawyers who fund the Democratic Party. What, he wanted to know, did the Republicans have to offer in return? Nothing, it turned out. Republicans were unprepared to make any concessions, if they had any to make.” [Time Magazine, 5/5/09]

RHETORIC: “Let’s also talk about letting families and businesses buy insurance across state lines.  I and many other Republicans believe that that will provide real choice and competition to lower the cost of health insurance.  Unfortunately, the President disagrees.”

REALITY: ALLOWING THE PURCHASE OF INSURANCE ACROSS STATE LINES WOULD LEAD TO A RACE TO THE BOTTOM

The American Prospect: Creating A National Market For Health Care Would Allow Insurers To Charter In Places Where Regulations Are Scarce, Like Credit Card Companies Do, And Stop Providing Guaranteed Basic Benefits Like Mental Health Parity And Cervical Cancer Screening. “Then there’s McCain’s plan to bulldoze state regulations and create a truly national market. ‘The main effect of establishing a national market would be to undo state laws designed to establish minimum levels of coverage and protect consumers. In a national market where state licenses are not required, insurers will charter in places where regulations are scarce–much like credit card companies do today. As a result, people guaranteed basic benefits today would find those benefits eliminated under the McCain plan…People also would lose access to many benefit protections. For example, forty-seven states now require mental health parity, forty-nine states require coverage of breast cancer reconstructive surgery, and twenty-nine require coverage of cervical cancer screening. All of these requirements–as well as regulations in several states that limit the rates that can be charged to higher-cost consumers and that limit who can be excluded from a health plan–would be eliminated under the McCain plan.’ In other words, the health industry will evolve to imitate the credit industry, where most companies crouch in states like South Dakota that have made the devil’s bargain to attract their business by refusing to regulate. As we can see in the credit crisis, the outcome of dismantling regulatory protections has not been good for consumers, nor conducted transparently, nor checked by government oversight. It is not a model one would naturally select for exportation. McCain is exporting it to heath care.” [The American Prospect, 9/16/08]

CBO On Allowing Individuals To Purchase Insurance From Any State: Would Increase Premiums On The Older And Less Healthy. CBO’s budget options outlined the effects of a plan to “allow individuals to purchase nongroup health insurance coverage in any state.” It found that “the net result…would be…a decrease in coverage of 100,000 among those with high expected spending.” CBO director Doug Elmendorf noted that it “would enabled younger and relatively health individuals…to purchase a cheaper policy in another state. Older and less healthy residents…would probably face higher premiums as a result.” [CBO PDF, December 2008; CBO Testimony, 2/25/09]

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